Snail Mail


If one has been paying attention to the indie music sphere over the past 365 days, you will have definitely come across the name ‘Snail Mail’, the solo project of classically-trained guitarist Lindsey Jordan. Much like preceding Habit EP did in 2016, her debut album Lush has raided review sites and playlists alike, and its accompanying tour has stopped at the Gorilla venue in Manchester.

Opening artist Liz Lawrence hops on stage to a guitar and Macbook which enable her to travel from unembellished indie-rock to sparkling electro-pop in just a few songs. However, the beginning of the set is underwhelming, starting with a simple guitar song that hardly offends, but fails to get the audience properly invested. Although, as the show advances, this proves to be the exception to the rule, as once the chorus of the second track gives way, the atmosphere changes for the better. The bridge leading the final iterative hook allows Liz enough space to introduce the audience to her slightly nasal, but nonetheless endearing voice.

Sometimes, though, the songs she brings do not accompany this voice as brilliantly as it could; a few moments, most notably the closer, have a certain swagger that is simply too snug a fit for her style, only serving to highlight the weaknesses in her vocals. Despite this, the wide majority of tracks are very well-paced and never lay stagnant to rot. The penultimate track in particular is constantly in evolution, adding more elements and mixing them in to make a soothing broth of a song. The final piece to the puzzle is a climactic secondary guitar line, but after this, the song stops dead on the spot, leaving it to feel like one big climb with little reward.

At its most basic point, the role of an opening artist is to set the tone of the night, and it could be argued that they should give as much variety as possible to act as an exciting tapas in preparation for the main course. In this regard, Liz succeeded greatly by offering a wide variety in such a concise timeframe. Later cuts in her performance even reveal a lick of Americana, blending in nicely with the drum machine backing. Personally, it would be great if she leaned more into the more electronic tendencies of her sound, similar to what the Postal Service did back in the mid-2000s.

After the usual half-hour wait, the main event summons herself on and starts with the bone-shaking fan favourite, “Heat Wave”. In terms of sonic presentation, she delivers the type of mid-paced alt-rock that first exploded within and has since left the 90s, but is softened with drenchings of reverb effects in the vein of Mac DeMarco and Beach Fossils. As she gets to the chorus of “Heat Wave”, the crowd pulses with anticipation, the type of enthusiasm reserved only for an artist touring off their breakthrough project. Cuts like “Pristine”, arguably her most well-known song, are very rudimentary alt-rock, replete with fuzzed-out guitar solos and steady drums. However, Snail Mail’s charismatic and assiduous vocals are what draw attention, not being wholly unique, but still effortlessly carries the emotional weight of “Pristine” and the rest of the music.

Ultimately though, the most enjoyable spots from the gig are bare and intimate, such as “Let’s Find an Out”. Framing the lyrics in the spotlight for a rare moment, it is lovesick balladry, but the music has a tinge of positivity that separates her from the sea of despondent young indie artists. It’s message-in-a-bottle emotion, sealed tightly with just her hushed vocals and warm guitar. Leaving off with a heartbroken cover of Courtney Love’s “The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World”, she strips the original song for parts, slows it down and lays on her thick Baltimore accent. It’s something to get lost in.

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